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Opinion: Student death demands response

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In the wake of Reagan Tokes’ tragic death, I know a lot of people in the community have been feeling hopeless. I have thought of her and her family every day since the story first broke. The chances of her being in the wrong place at the wrong time is haunting and agonizing. I did not have the privilege of knowing her, but feel so deeply for those who did.

What happened to her left me wondering how we can respond and take action. When I saw your article, “Reagan Tokes remembered with self-defense class’” (Feb. 15), I was glad to see tangible actions being taken. Every 98 seconds, an American is sexually assaulted, according to the Department of Justice. These violent encounters need to stop. Unfortunately, we still need to work on our responses to these heinous acts when they occur. Laurah Hallock’s commitment to spreading self-defense skills in our community was really inspiring to me.

The class that Ronin Training Center held was certainly a meaningful gesture. Giving 50 women lifesaving skills in self-defense was a story I was very grateful to read. However, there needs to be an ongoing effort to provide women with self-defense skills that will empower them.

As we mourn Reagan’s death, we must ask ourselves what more we can do to keep one another and ourselves safe. I plan on addressing next year’s USG president and vice president, whomever they may be, about their action plans regarding campus safety and sexual assault. I hope to continue to see stories in The Lantern that publicize opportunities such as Ronin Training Center’s free class, and continue to generate conversations about sexual assault, self-defense and safety.

One comment

  1. You raise a very good question, and to it, the first thing I can think of to say is simply “being aware.” That includes being aware of one’s surroundings at ALL times, and also taking precautions to protect oneself when going out (e.g. walking in groups, carrying pepper spray, being mindful of escape routes, etc). It’s truly unfortunate that people should have to worry about constantly being “on guard” but the reality is, we live in a world where personal safety cannot truly be taken for granted. It’s simply a fact of life, and a matter of survival, even in Columbus.

    Reagan Tokes’ death is heartbreaking and unnerving to many people because she was a young and innocent woman who wasn’t doing anything wrong to make herself a target. She wasn’t stumbling along High Street after having a few too many drinks, or mindlessly talking on her cell phone. She was simply going home from work. She could have been your sister, your girlfriend, your daughter, your best friend, your niece. She was indeed these things and more to people who now grieve for her and for all of the moments and memories with her that were to come, but that now have been stolen forever away from their lives.

    She had a random encounter with a monster of a person who did not care anything at all about who she was, or what she meant to her loved ones. His criminal acts perpetrated against her are as heinous as they are utterly heartless and horrifying. But giving him the death penalty–which I personally think he richly deserves–still won’t bring back Reagan or fill the excruciatingly painful void her absence and manner of departure leaves in the hearts of her family and friends.

    It leads to me to ask, what created such a person who would think to do such a thing to someone in the first place? Also, could anything have directed him down a different road, towards a better outcome? I think sincerely asking these questions should lead us eventually to the second stage answer to your question posed, towards a more constructive solution. It will likely not yield any quick fixes which our society and culture are all too fond of, but perhaps what comes through perseverance and a commitment to genuine fundamental solutions may spare someone else from ever again having to endure the horror of what Reagan experienced in her final moments of life.

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